This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.~ Harry Dixon Loes
Here we are again, in the midst of what many consider to be an important time of year. My social media feed is telling me how to wish everyone a wonderful season, in language meant to show respect for every single person’s beliefs. Honestly, I don’t know what the cashier at Walmart believes. Do I risk it by using one of the phrases or just nod my thanks? Social dilemma?
It isn’t just the holidays (oops, that implies Holy Days, which might offend someone). I struggle with all kinds of celebrations. I also struggle with social demands…requests to fit in with a group. I think through thousands of things before I speak. Before I accept or decline. Before I act. It can be quite exhausting.
Conforming is exhausting. Yes, I accept these expectations as part of getting along, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for me. The best thing I can compare this feeling to is the need to have the latest brand of clothing or shoes or to be seen with the “in” crowd. At least you can purchase those things (yes, even the crowd; see celebrities) and blend in. But when you’re wired differently and no one really knows, it’s a huge challenge.
So I don’t always fit in. I’m old enough to get that and live with the fact that I rub some people wrong. I worry about people younger than me who still struggle to conform. There is so much emphasis on fitting in at school, at the store even at church that it’s no wonder parents are getting burned out. There are so many expectations of quiet, well-behaved (yeah, perspective matters) children that just aren’t natural. I grew up with children should be seen and not heard. I learned as a parent that not hearing my kids meant they were up to something….
So, here we are. What to do? My answer…let your light shine. Together we make up a beautiful portrait of humanity. Sure, we need to respect each other (hence the requirement for conformity), but we don’t need to be exactly alike. Our differences make us stronger as a whole. Let’s teach our kids that being different is okay. Let’s teach our kids that each light is valuable and part of the chain that keeps our paths illuminated.
And for those who wonder…the cashier wished me a blessed day. I wished her a Merry Christmas. I’m not totally clueless…..